Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Dr. Katina Pollock


This dissertation examines how elementary principals develop collaborative work environments. Specifically, it explores how principals understand collaborative work, examines the strategies principals employ to encourage such an environment, the supports principals use when developing collaborative work environments and the challenges principals experience when trying to create one in his or her school. The study was conducted using a qualitative research design and an interpretivist approach was used to frame the research. Eleven elementary principals were interviewed for this study. The interviews were semi-structured and ranged in length from 45-60 minutes.

Findings included an important emphasis on positive relationship building amongst teachers and the school principal in order to develop trust, the use of a distributed style of school leadership, the importance of communication and the significance of developing a positive school culture. Principals shared the supports that assisted them in developing collaborative working environments, such as monetary and staffing resources from the district school board, moral support from other principals and effective working relationships with their teacher union representatives. Challenges to the creation of a collaborative work environment included a lack of time and funding, staff members who were unwilling to work in a collaborative manner, as well as challenges that occur outside the school such as parental and union involvement.

The implementation of a collaborative working environment in elementary schools could result in a reduced workload for both principals and teachers. This would be accomplished through the sharing of responsibilities amongst the staff.